Covid has changed the world. But for many of us, not only has it changed the world, it’s also changed our world. There have been many changes in my world since that day last year when we first heard the words “You must stay at home”, and I wanted to tell you, my clients, a little about those changes, what I’ve learned from them, and how they are going to change they way Zoe Newsam Coaching works.
It seems incredible somehow that it's almost a year since, having realised that providing sea kayak coaching was untenable for the foreseeable future, I walked into my nearest Tesco store and asked for a job. I'd sworn after leaving NATS in 2013 that I wouldn't work for a large company again; but needs must. I had no other means of paying the bills. I picked up a job as a delivery driver, and have been grateful for that one little piece of foresight ever since.
Lockdown was tough, as I grappled with the feeling of having the rug pulled from under me: identity and my sense of purpose pulled with it. But it, and the many other not-so-restricted stages of 2020 brought other benefits too: my life began to follow something of a routine for the first time in years, and I enjoyed spending time at home. We live in a beautiful place, and like many of us I spent time exploring every inch of footpaths, tracks & roads close to home. Unlike a lot of people though, we have a vast area of wild land on our doorstep, and again I'm incredibly grateful for that gift: for the ability to get outdoors, escape the stress and trauma of Covid, and enjoy moving through the environment around me, on foot or by bike, and when we were allowed, by sea kayak. We were unable to paddle during the UK's first lockdown, and that played on my mind... how would I cope with returning to the water? As it turned out, I needn't have worried.
But 2020 turned into 2021, and another Lockdown, with cases on the rise even here in the Highlands. The experience made me reflect on what is important to me, and why I work; how much I need to earn to get by, why I coach, why I run a business, and why, now, I deliver people's shopping. Most potently possibly, it made me consider what I can do to help people live healthier lives.
I coach because I love making a real difference to people. One of my own greatest loves is mastery, getting better at things; I also love the feeling of moving well, of feeling healthy and as though my body is able to do stuff, and take me places that give me that feeling. Seeing other people achieve that, and helping them to get there - whether that's through getting better at a particular skill in a boat, understanding the environment better on the sea, improving strength & power so that you can run, ride, or chase your kids more easily, or to lose a wee bit of weight so you feel better about yourself- that's what makes me feel good.
The outdoor industry can be a peculiar place, and I've long had a feeling that, somehow, I just didn't quite fit in. Since I started working in the outdoors in 2013, I've felt like an outsider: the wrong gender, the wrong shape & size, the wrong background. I've spent plenty of time trying to fit in... but as a friend recently put it (very perceptively, as always) to me: I'm fed up with trying to fit in. The last year has shown me that trying to fit in doesn't pay the bills. It also probably doesn't deliver the best service I can, to my clients. I'm not in this job for the other people in the same job: I'm in it for you guys, my clients, and to live the kind of life I love. So I'm going to stop trying to fit in, stop trying to deliver the courses we're 'supposed' to, and just do what works, and what I love.
It can also be incredibly hard to make a decent living in the outdoor industry: the last year has brought that into stark relief.
So reflecting on all of that made me realise that I needed to make some changes. I want to make a real difference, and one way I can do that is to help people get fitter, get healthier, and get out doing the stuff they enjoy. I can help people do that in a boat, or in the gym. I can also make a real difference to my own life, help myself to do all of that, by being at home more.
How will all of that look, in practice?
You'll see a greater emphasis on Fitness & Nutrition Coaching: mostly delivered online, but still with the personal touch that (I hope) you would expect from me as a coach. That will be focussed on helping people who enjoy the outdoors to achieve their goals: people who I connect with and understand. You'll also see a select number of Sea Kayak Coaching courses, sometimes delivered alongside other coaches with whom I have a close working relationship; and you'll see bespoke sea kayak coaching opportunities, to help you achieve what you really want. If you have a particular thing you'd like to work on, then please do get in touch.
What you won't see is 'identikit' sea kayak qualification or syllabus-based courses, or 'bog standard' personal training. Everything I do will be tailored to delivering the best quality coaching I'm capable of, to my clients, while allowing me the time and space to live the life that keeps me mentally & physically healthy.
And alongside that, I will keep delivering shopping. It's become an essential service up here, I've found it rewarding, and there's a lot to be said for having a small, steady income each month.
Who knows where we will all be in a few months, or a year or so's time? Covid has been an enormous rollercoaster ride, but I hope the lessons I've learned will help me to come out of it stronger, better at my job, and more able to live a healthy, happy life, whatever it might throw at us all.
I hope to catch up with you all on the water, on the hill, or in the gym in the coming months, and if you'd like to talk about coaching, please do get in touch.
Sea Kayak Coach & Personal Trainer based in the Scottish Highlands. I love paddling, running, lifting weights, cycling, and moving well- and I love helping other people to do the same. I have to work really hard to build and maintain my skills on the water and my fitness, and I hope that helps me to understand how hard my clients also have to work!